About the Book

Title: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)
Published: 2015

Cover Story: Hungry Like the Wolf
BFF Charm: On the Way to Shiny and Chrome
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Straight Up Rick Riordan
Bonus Factors: Norse Mythology, Boston, Lavish Hotel, Diversity, Team of Outcasts
Relationship Status: I Think This Is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Cover Story: Hungry Like the Wolf*

John Rocco continues to bring it with his illustrations, and this is probably one of his most detailed covers yet. Even though his covers all look unmistakably his, I love how Rocco uses subtly distinct styles for each series. My smallest of quibbles for this one is that the positioning makes it look like the wolf is on Magnus’ side. Then again, were it to face Magnus instead, I’m not sure even John Rocco could make wolf butt look impressive.

*This is actually the first of three wolf cover books that I have this month, so get ready for me to use Duran Duran A LOT. 

The Deal:

Magnus Chase has had a pretty tough life, y’all. Ever since a terrible fire took his mother’s life two years ago, he’s been living on the streets and relying on his wits to get by. But when his estranged family tracks him down — incl. an uncle that his mother didn’t trust — Magnus finds out that he’s the son of a Norse god. And OH YEAH, those Norse myths are all totally real. Anddddd unless Magnus can find a long-lost weapon, the events of Ragnarok will be set in motion. NBD JUST A LITTLE DOOMSDAY IS ALL. 

BFF Charm: On the Way to Shiny and Chrome

Yay BFF Charm

It’s still early for Magnus to claim a spot alongside my Camp Half-Blood BFFs, but he’s already well on his way. Sarcastic and self-deprecating, Magnus is a total bookworm and a major Whovian, i.e., OUR PEOPLE. He’s also been dealt a bad hand, but he’s resourceful and he doesn’t need anyone’s empty sympathy re: his houseless and parentless existence. Sure, he might commit the occasional petty theft against the filthy rich; understandable, if not exactly commendable. But ultimately, Magnus is a good dude that’ll put the safety of others ahead of his own — even against better judgement. 

And shout-out to all of Magnus’ awesome friends! It’s going to be a lot of fun hanging out with this crew for the rest of these books.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

There isn’t really any romance so far, although Riordan could be going for the slow burn. But seeing as he’s already done that, I’m hoping he’ll take a more unexpected direction with Magnus.

Talky Talk: Straight Up Rick Riordan

Going back to the first-person narration that’s served him well before, Riordan hits familiar beats with a fresh spin. While there are similarities to his previous series, Magnus Chase tells a different enough story to stand on its own. Besides, modernizing mythology with plenty of heart, humour, and adventure is kind of Riordan’s deal, and he does it pretty dang well.

On the subject of those other books of his: it’s no coincidence that Magnus has the last name that he does. You wouldn’t have to have read the Camp Half-Blood books beforehand, but these series are definitely connected, and it’d be more satisfying to read them in chronological release order. (There’s also a fan service-y chapter title that doesn’t make sense in the context of this book alone, which Magnus even agrees with. (Related: don’t forget to read those chapter titles.))

Bonus Factor: Norse Mythology

OBVS. Out of all of Riordan’s series so far, I know the least about Norse mythology. I went into this book as a complete noob, but it’s def. made me want to learn more. Plus, I was especially amused by the interpretation of a certain well-known god. (It’ll be v. obvious which one, and for what highly immature reason.) 

However, given my lack of pre-existing knowledge on Norse mythology, I probably should have used the handy glossary more than I did (as in, not at all). Even though I didn’t have trubs keeping track of the frequently used names and terms, it can be a lot of new information to absorb for a forgetful person like me.

Bonus Factor: Boston

Most of the story that takes place in Midgard (i.e., the human world) is set in Magnus’ hometown of Boston. I can’t speak to the authenticity as I’ve never been (YET), but there are tons of Bostonian locations. 

Bonus Factor: Lavish Hotel

hand ringing bell at hotel front desk

Valhalla has been reimagined as a swanky hotel for warriors with a training ground where anything goes and a dining hall fit for frequent feasts. There’s just one liiiiittle catch for checking in… 

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

One of my favourite things about Riordan’s take on mythology is how he doesn’t use it as an excuse to include only white (and now, hearing) characters. Because if the readers are down with Frigging Norse mythology being real, then it’s no more far-fetched that a black dwarf, a deaf elf, and a Muslim Valkyrie can exist in any of the Nine Worlds.

Bonus Factor: Team of Outcasts

The cast of Mystery Men all dressed in different quirky outfits in the subway

Speaking of Magnus and his friends, each of them has been rejected by their societies in some way. But weakness is only a matter of perception; those same traits can also be used to their advantage.

Relationship Status: I Think This Is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Book, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for quite some time, and I think we have a promising future together. Now, excuse me while I go study up on your comprehensive family history in preparation for our next date. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Disney-Hyperion. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). The Sword of Summer will be available October 6th.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.